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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Kiki Lowenstein and the Penny Pincher: Part 2

By Joanna Campbell Slan 

Editor’s Note: In Part 1, Kiki Lowenstein, owner of Time in a Bottle, has been teaching a two-session class called “The Double-Dip.” This week, her customers will be bringing one of their favorite dessert recipes, a photo of the dessert, and the recipe to use in an 8- by 8-inch cookbook album. There's a bit of friction in the group because Iona Lippman and Lisa Ferguson both claim to make an outstanding red velvet cake. Furthermore, two of Kiki's customers have also challenged her come up with inexpensive scrapbook embellishments. Can Kiki keep everybody happy? 

(You can read Part 1 at   Or you can read it by scrolling down to one of my earlier posts at )

"How's Baby Ty doing?" asked my friend Clancy, as she handed me the supplies for the second of our Double-Dip Classes.
"Fat and sassy," I said. My job was to put the pieces in a plastic baggy and slap on our new store label. I was particularly proud of the image—a glass jar filled with watches and the words "Time in a Bottle"—because I'd created the logo myself. Since the watches were every color in the rainbow, the logo went with everything! That was important because we had customers who loved bright colors, those who favored pastels, and some who liked neutrals.
Yes, every guest who walked through our doors was unique in every way, except for one: They all loved saving memories. It was our job to help them do just that.
"And his older siblings?" Clancy raised an eyebrow.
She was asking about my 13-year-old daughter Anya and her brother, 5-year-old Erik.
"They're adjusting. The other night when Ty was crying, Erik suggested we send him back to the hospital to get fixed. Anya had her grandmother take her to a drugstore where she bought a pair of silicone earplugs. I think it was more for effect than to really block out the noise."
"She's a smart kid," said Clancy, as she cast an eye at our big black clock. "T-minus ten minutes and counting."
As usual, Clancy was dressed as if she stepped out of a Talbot's catalog. Tonight she was wearing a pink knit top and gray pants. I'd given just birth last month and was still wearing maternity clothes. Tyler was a healthy and happy boy, so I tried not to let my squishy shape bother me. I also ignored the frequent splotches of baby spit-up that appeared on my shoulders.
"I think the women will like the layout I created for the dessert page in their cookbook albums," I said, "but the second portion of the evening is bound to be more challenging."
Iona and Avery Ailes had complained about the high cost of scrapbook layouts. They had dared me to come up with thrifty ways to create and embellish their pages. I'd been working feverishly all week to do just that.
I crossed my fingers that the two women would like what I'd done. Just then, the door minder rang. In walked Iona, dragging her Cropper Hopper behind her.
"Showtime," said Clancy.

< > < > < >

One session down and one to go. I had managed to keep Iona and Lisa from duking it out over the Red Velvet Cake. Iona's cake really was better. The hints of cinnamon and vanilla were scrumptious. She glowed with pride as we devoured our slices. Lisa said very little as she went to work diligently on her cookbook page. Maybe her feelings were hurt.
Time to move on.
"One of the quickest, easiest and cheapest ways to save money on any scrapbook layout is to make your own embellishments. I'm going to share a few new ideas for raw materials around your house that you can turn into embellishments. Are you ready?"
The women nodded at me with their pens poised to take notes.
"Hang tags from purchases—these I cover with paper or paint with acrylics before adding stickers or stamping on them. Labels from cans—these can be scanned or used as is. Greeting cards—I carefully cut around the images. Sometimes I use Diamond Glaze and a little glitter to spice them up. Old children's books—the images in these are adorable. Use 'as is' or add Diamond Glaze. Pages from old books—either use these as background paper or cut them into the shapes. They also make great flowers! Fabric—glue it or sew it directly to your paper. Scan or photocopy a design you like. Bottle caps—use them flat side down or flat side up. Either way you can add letter stickers. I've also colored them and used them in a row as a border of dots. Styrofoam trays—wash them, dry them, cut them into shapes, and paint them with acrylics. Gift wrap—can be used as background paper or you can select a special image and cut it out. Packaging—I reused the package of the perfume I got for Christmas. I flattened it and cut it into circles for embellishments."
At that point I paused. "Any questions?"
"And if we don't have access to a copier or a computer," asked Avery. "Then what do we do?"
"Use the tape transfer method. Rub packing tape over the image. Soak the image in warm water. Peel away the paper. Ta-da!"
But my excitement proved short-lived because Iona shrieked, "Who took my Red Velvet Cake recipe? It's missing!"

Editor’s note: Stay tuned for Part 3!

Editor's note:To read Part 1,  scroll down to earlier posts, or go to

Joanna Campbell Slan is the author of the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series, featuring a scrapbooking mom. To see a list of all of Joanna’s books, go to To enjoy another free Kiki short story, send an email to


Dawn S. said...

Thanks for the installment. Great ideas for inexpensive embellishments!

Cricutgirlg said...

It's coming a long great so far. i'm being drawn in.

Joanna Slan said...

I really need to show you these cheap embellishments, don't I? Sigh. I'm soooooo behind!!!!

Joanna Slan said...

Cricutgirlg, that's my evil plot. (Mawh-ha-ha!)

Katherine Ginther said...

Thanks, Joanna, I am really enjoying your combination of ideas in this new story. I enjoy reading about the techniques that you describe in your stories. Here in my part of rural PA, we are usually behind you in some techniques, but other things we do know about. I really enjoy the things that you teach me. Still haven't mastered ZenTangles, though :-)

ceblain said...

What a fun and interesting installment. You are just amazing with what you know and do in the crafting sphere. Thank you so much. Cake recipe will be sent soon.


Joanna Slan said...

Katherine, nobody masters Zentangle. It's like yoga, because you can practice it, and benefit, but I'm not sure about mastery. Glad you like the ideas. The editor wanted a Kiki story, and I wanted to write about thrifty scrapbooking, so...ta-dah!

Joanna Slan said...

Cynthia, want to hear a secret? When I met my son's new girlfriend, I overheard her telling her friend on the phone that I was, "Like some kind of crafting queen." ROFL. I do have fun with stuff, but there's no tiara on my head!

Tammy Feil said...

Having read all your Kiki books and trying your ideas I would definitly call you a crafting queen!!!
Thanks for the first 2 parts of this story, I'm hooked and can't wait for more.

Joanna Slan said...

Aw, Tammy, you're so kind!

NancyThomasHanna said...

Great start, can't wait to read the next. Your ideas are always so great and you are so talented!

Suzy said...

:) I read it so quickly, loving the tips, would love the cake too no doubt.

Peggy Basile said...

you have got us all hooked Joanna, and as the weather cools here in the Northeast...ahhh, no problem, more reading time, love it, Thanks so much, Peggy in Maine